Friday, May 20, 2011


(Bob Clark, 1972)
The first thing you notice is that it looks and sounds great, astonishing enough considering the grainy-grotty Canuck genre films that it prefigures. Even the extremely economical Vietnam opener - achieved with boreal forest, flashpots, and TWO guys in fatigues - is abstract and impressionistic enough to pass. Then it sinks in how smart it is, and how daring, and how concise: the returned Vietnam veteran/zombie spends the whole movie bringing the war back home to his 'idyllic' small town. He is even courteous enough to spell it out: "I died for you, why shouldn't you return the favour?" Remember that this is 1972, fully seven years before Hollywood would permit the gauzy carnival ride of Apocalypse Now, which this movie beats coming and going simply because the spectacle is grounded in a recognizable reality. Pretty grim, but rendered bearable by its out-of-nowhere craftsmanship, and also by Clark's trademark vulgarity: the overdrawn drunk and the snappy double-date dialogue and the guy getting run over at the drive-in don't exactly fit right in, but they reaffirm the film's entertainment value without undermining the scathing nuclear-fam critique. I mean he strangles the dog - how literal can you get? Excitingly good movie.

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